Renowned eastside officer at a loss about not being allowed to return

Jan, 18 2006 - 8:40 AM

VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) - A veteran former Vancouver police officer who is renowned for his work in the downtown eastside is at a loss to explain why the police union and the department are blocking his return to the force.

Dave Dickson is one of more than 170 officers forced to retire early in 2003, due to detrimental financial changes to their pension plan.
Many have since been hired back or contracted to perform services, but Dickson has been rejected despite his award-winning work and inroads with natives, youth and sex trade workers in the downtown eastside.

The retired officer says no one has offered a proper explanation and that's why he's filed an age discrimination human rights complaint. "If the chief or deputy chief wanted to step up to the plate and deal with this issue I think they could," said Dickson. "But they've chosen not to for whatever reason."

The downtown eastside community has rallied to pay for a civilian position for Dickson to continue his work for the past six months.

Cop claims discrimination
Retired officer says union is blocking reinstatement

Lora Grindlay
The Province

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Popular former Downtown Eastside cop Dave Dickson claims he was discriminated against based on age because his application to the Vancouver Police Department after retiring was rejected.

Dickson launched the complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal two months ago. It's not yet known if the tribunal will accept the complaint or if it will go to a hearing.

The respondents are the city, the department and the Vancouver Police Union.

Dickson -- who retired in 2003 before changes to the pension plan that would have cost him financially kicked in -- said his recent application for his old job was rejected.

After one year off, retired officers are allowed to reapply.

"The reason for rejecting my application was two comments made by an inspector and the deputy chief," said Dickson.

"The inspector said they want to get 30 years out of their officers, so because I'm 55, I wouldn't be able to give them 30 years. The deputy chief sort of reiterated that when he said the union is blocking [the hiring.]"

Because more than 170 officers retired when Dickson did, about 18 were rehired on contracts to fill vacant positions. Dickson worked a 14-month contract in his old job and then received a six-month contract through the Vancouver Agreement.

Dickson, who has several awards for his policing work in the tough neighbourhood, said he could be hired for any number of departments but wants to continue his work in the Downtown Eastside.

"I love what I do. I've been making the VPD look good for 25 years, and that's why the whole thing is very confusing," he said.

He said he feels betrayed by his union, to which he paid dues for 25 years.

"I'm not expecting them to support me and stand up for me, but don't block me -- especially if the system allows me to come back," he said.

Vancouver Police Union president Tom Stamatakis said it's not fair for Dickson to expect his old job back after retiring.

"He's saying, 'I want to be rehired, but I only want to do these certain things.' This is a person who made a decision to retire," said Stamatakis.

"Dave Dickson is not saying, 'I want to come back to Vancouver Police Department and work in patrol and work shift work and do all those things. He's saying, 'I want to come back and I want to work these certain hours in this certain place.' Perhaps there are other people [who] want to do that."

Blair Harvey, executive director of the Vancouver Aboriginal Council, called Dickson "a phenomenal human being and a remarkable constable."

Harvey said the community would be thrilled if Dickson continued his work there -- but more importantly, he wants Dickson's legacy to continue long term.

"But what we'd really like to do is to talk to VPD about recognizing his style of policing and seeing what we can do to develop a policy and a process to put other like [minded] constables on the street.

"It's going to take a lot of good will on behalf of city hall, VPD management and, of course, the union."

 The Vancouver Province 2006

Dave Dickson
The Minister of Justice National Youth Justice Policing Award 2004



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